A Survival Guide for Work-From-Home Parents

As Seen in The Huffington Post!

 

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People are always asking me how I manage to consistently work as much as I do with a toddler in the house. It makes me feel great that I have somehow made this near-impossible feat look easy, but I can assure you that it’s anything but.

 

I’d liken it to nailing jello to the wall.

 

I made the choice to work from home when my daughter was a few months shy of her first birthday. I didn’t have the help of a full-time nanny, and my day to day life became, well, a circus. The juggling act between meeting client deadlines, developing creative content, answering a daily onslaught of emails, taking care of my home, and most importantly, taking care of my family, has been a learning process like no other.

 

As with anything, this routine took a little time to ease in to. There are days that go off without a hitch, and days where I’d like to hide in my closet with my laptop and a giant vat of espresso. There are days I feel more capable than superwoman, and then days where I repeatedly ask myself if I’m crazy to have launched my own writing business with a now super-active toddler running circles around me all day, every day.

I hate to sound cliche, but the truth is, if I can do it, so can the rest of you amazing mamas (and daddies) of the world. Here are a few tips for working from home while parenting:

 

Get ahead of the game.
Preparation is key. No one knows the needs of your child or children better than you. Create a schedule that allows for a comfortable balance without overwhelming you. Wake up before the kids, allow yourself to organize and map out your day, and answer some pressing emails. Know exactly which parts of your day will demand the most of your attention instead of winging it and hoping things fall in line. They won’t. Learning to work on a schedule and create routines that work for all of the people in your home will be a game changer that will not only increase productivity, it will keep you in control of your day.

 

Ask for help.
Any mom, business owner, or mamapreneur worth her salt knows that it truly does take a village to get ahead. For me personally, I am not in a position to hire a full time sitter or nanny, nor do I want to rely on the help of someone else. I enjoy being with my daughter as much as I can between client calls and projects, however, I know my limits. Luckily, I have family close by who are willing to help a few days a week, as well as a neighbor who is happy to watch my daughter for a few hours on some of my busiest days. The trick is to take full advantage of this time. This is when I schedule any calls (because no one enjoys hearing a screaming child who just spilled her goldfish all over the floor), engage in creating new business plans, and taking a few moments of quiet time to reinvigorate my brain and thought process. Ask for help. Don’t be shy. Help is good.

 

Know your limits.
This is the most important piece of information I can give to anyone looking to maintain a successful career with small children at home. If the first two options do not work out for you, this one will be your secret weapon. Sure, we all want to do as much as humanly possible to keep everyone, clients, children, spouses, friends, and family happy day in and day out – but let’s be real here. If you’re consistently overextending yourself, something will suffer and it will most likely be you, and the quality of your work. This happened to me quite a bit in the beginning, until I became more familiar with and accepting of my limits. Learning to say no, whether to yourself or others is an invaluable tool for success.

 

Have a sense of humor.
And be realistic. Do not expect perfection of yourself or anyone else involved in your work-from-home life. Allow a little room for error, a lot of patience, and time to learn. When in doubt – laugh (even if it’s at yourself).

The truth is, anything that results in success takes a lot of hard work, trial and error, and patience. You’ll get there, trust me.

 

Working from Home with Child: Smart or Just Plain Insane?

People are always asking me how I manage to consistently work as much as I do with a toddler in the house. It makes me feel great that I have somehow made this near-impossible feat look easy, but I can assure you that it’s anything but.

I’d liken it to nailing jello to the wall.

I made the choice to work from home when my daughter was a few months shy of her first birthday. I didn’t have the help of a full-time nanny, and my day to day life became, well, a circus. The juggling act between meeting client deadlines, developing creative content, answering a daily onslaught of emails, taking care of my home, and most importantly, taking care of my family has been a learning process like no other.
IMG_5572
As with anything, this routine took a little time to ease in to. There are days that go off without a hitch, and days where I’d like to hide in my closet with my laptop and a giant vat of espresso. There are days I feel more capable than superwoman, and then days where I repeatedly ask myself if I’m crazy to have launched my own writing business with a now super-active toddler running circles around me all day, every day.
I hate to sound cliche, but the truth is, if I can do it, so can the rest of you amazing women of the world. Here are a few tips for working from home while parenting.

Guest Post! A Brief Tale of Disaster: Mom-Style

For all the money in the world, I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried…

The morning that I have just barely survived needs to be turned into a movie called:

“I am not in my right mind, and this is why” or “Wine is for Mommies” or  EVEN

“A fist full of crap”…

Basically, my morning with my two children was a literal SHIT show.

First I MUST tell you that I have a cold, of course I do, why wouldn’t I? My cell phone and iPad are a petri dish of bacteria thanks to these kids (I swear I must have the cure for at least one disease sitting on my screen) but I digress.

Ever hear the expression: don’t count your chickens before they hatch? Yep – never did I know this to be more true than it was this morning.

I started my morning unusually optimistic and punctual today. My 2-year-old son and my 5-year-old daughter and I are actually making good time this morning. We are all set for school, on our way out the door and I’m even carrying everything we need without breaking a sweat. We head downstairs to the parking lot, the birds are singing, the sun is shining, life is good and as I proceed to strap my son into his car seat I catch a whiff of something so pungent that actually penetrates my air tight, 100% no getting through, severely congested nostrils.

This was bad.

I proceed to do the  CIA-status “diaper peep” which is usually highly insulting to my 2-year-old when he is “clean” but this time, when my index finger barely brushed the top of his diaper, I found that was already knuckle deep in what can only be described as the most heinous explosion of shit ever.
At this point I have shit on my hand but my hopes and dreams have not yet been shitted on. I still believe that we can make it to school on time, because I am a MOM goddammit and I have pushed through worse! I decided to lay my kid inside the trunk to change his diaper and keep it moving. (Come on, you know you’ve done it too). My daughter is completely oblivious to what is going on, she has no idea that this morning is slowly deteriorating in the worst way – because as long as she has the iPad the world can legit crumble around her but make no mistake, she will know how to do an Elsa braid and Monster High makeup like nobody’s business.
So back to the trunk, I proceed to assess the “shituation”, he has shit all the way up to his uniform shirt, his shorts are completely compromised, and as I try to clean him up to the best of my ability,  I realize I am now running out of wipes and he has smeared shit all over my trunk. I use my last wipe, and bare hand to get him mostly clean but at this point I have no choice but to confess to my daughter that I am taking him upstairs to change and wash up. Don’t worry, she barely flinched.

I turn around to get my son and he is riding his scooter naked in the parking lot of my condo, swear to god. You see, in order to lay him in the trunk I had to take his scooter out to make room, so when I pulled him out of the trunk he was face to face with his scooter and because why not?

HE RODE NAKED THROUGH THE PARKING LOT OF MY SOUTH FLORIDA CONDO.
So I grabbed him by the shirt, almost flung him up the stairs to our second floor condo with very little tact or grace. I placed him on the hallway floor to fish  my keys out of my pocket and unlock the door on to turn around and find that he is peeing in my building hallway. PEEING! 😩 WTF!!  Seriously?

Oh my god. Okay, lets get this over with Adrian. Let’s get you cleaned up, dressed all over again and back in the car so that we can MAYBE get to school on time. I wash him from head to toe, put a new uniform shirt on, shorts, socks and we are out the door, yes! Finally! We are late but not embarrassingly late…except I just locked myself out of the apartment.

MIC DROP.

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AS TOLD, VERBATIM, BY CONTRIBUTING WRITER PATRICIA PACHECO VILLAZON. Patricia is a full-time mama and lives a much less shitty life than described. She calls Miami her home and Colombia her roots. She’s got a passion for all things “creative”.

Check her out on Instagram @pattyp444

To My Daughter on Her 1st Birthday

My dear girl…

How can it be that an entire year has passed? How can it be that I’ve been this full of happiness, bursting-at-the-seams-with-love, for only one year?

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How did I ever live a life without you?

It has only been a year, but I can hardly remember what life felt like before you arrived.

You entered this world with a force that I could never describe – one that washed over me instantly the moment your 6 pound, 9 ounce body was placed on my bare chest.

You entered this world with eyes wide open, peering into mine as if to say, “I’m here now Mama, let’s do this.”

You entered this world and I knew mine would be forever changed – but was still naive to the details of how.

Well, let’s just say I now understand what my own Mama (your Nonna!) meant for all those years when she would say, “You’ll never understand how much I love you…”

It may not make much sense to you for many, many, years to come, but it’s only fair that I try and describe what you mean to me, and why I owe you the best life possible in return for the one that you gave me, just one year ago.

I love you for the way you made me come alive, and helped me to fall in love with life’s simple pleasures.

I love you for the way you helped squash any of my feelings of self-doubt, and reassured me of my strength with each hug and coo of comfort.

I love you for the way you hold my finger, the same way now as your first day on this planet, tight and with a grip that declares your need for me.

I love you for the way you’ve made me love your Daddy, when I already thought I loved him as much as I possibly could.

I love you for the way you brighten every day, and for the way your happy spirit takes over any stress I may be feeling and washes it away.

I love you for the way you light up any room, and for the way you command the attention of everyone around you – don’t ever stop doing that, it’s incredible to watch.

I love you for the way you make the life I lived before you seem so worth it. Like I’d live through the pain and the loss and the heartbreak a million times over if I knew it would always lead me to you.

I love you for the way you’ve brought out the very best in me, filled my soul with purpose, given me meaning and reason to smile, 100 times a day at least.

There are so many more reasons my sweet Bella, but I fear that by the time you are old enough to read this you’ll be rolling your eyes at me and be too busy getting ready to change the world that you won’t have time to finish my note.

Because you will change the world, my love. There is something so intense about you. The way you exercise your independence in everything you do. The fearless way you approach everything.

So, my love, here is what I’ve got for you…

After what you’ve done for me in only one year, I promise to spend the rest of my life repaying you – with endless love, support, guidance, respect and honesty. I promise to always help you find the best in yourself like you’ve done for me. I promise to give you everything I’ve got, and when it’s not enough, I’ll find a way to give you more.

I promise you will never have to feel the way I felt as a little girl, not if I can help it, you can trust me on that.

A year used to come and go like anything else… but now, in only a year, you’ve given me an entire life’s worth of love.

Happy First Birthday, sweet girl.

Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for being you. Thank you, for this love.

Love Always,

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The Elimination of the Mother-Class

I am playing for the other team, now. I am on the other side of the fence. I’ve jumped ship. Crossed the border. I’ve purchased a one-way ticket and I’m not returning anytime soon.

I RSVP’ed ‘HELL YES’ to this life.

I successfully crossed over into “stay-at-home-mom” territory, although, I technically NEVER stay at home. I work from home, or from Starbucks, or from my best friend’s couch.

Do you see how I had to throw that in there? That I do, indeed, work? This is a problem. It’s a really big problem, actually, that we as Mothers, feel the need to justify ourselves by proving we do anything more than just wear our “Mom” hats all day.

For every “good for you!” voice of encouragement, there’s a “But why? What do you do all day?” asshole waiting to test your patience, and make you feel the need to validate yourself – and it’s usually someone who you owe nothing to.

But that’s just the way it is.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve succeeding in eliminating the mother-class.

WHY, though? What happened to the  beauty in just being a Mom?

We all know that Mom is Superwoman, and Mama knows best.

Home is where your mom is, and, Where there’s a Mom, there’s a way.

We can all admit to needing our moms on our toughest days no matter how old we get, or how much pride we hold on to. Because “Mom” IS the most important role played on this planet.

So why, when I’m out to lunch with a friend and our babies and I’m approached by a random stranger who wants to chat about my baby and how much she doesn’t look like me, do I find myself justifying my role as a mom with “I also work, I’m a writer”.

Or when rude acquaintances probe, “So WHY did you really stop working, aren’t you bored?”.

Bored? Seriously? Aside from the thrill of getting to look at my daughter’s very precious, VERY happy face day in and day out – I am SWAMPED by motherhood. A good kind of swamped. The swamped that comes from learning to balance your daily life with being the best possible mom you can be (and then polishing that day off with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc).

These days, so many of us Mamas are forced back into our working roles before we’re ready. ALL of us, who have had to take that plunge, are forced to fake a grin and exclaim, “I love  balancing the best of both worlds,” even when a large majority of us are just barely holding it together. I vomited – multiple times – on my first day back to work, and remember thinking to myself the ENTIRE day, “What will people think if I decide to call this whole thing off and dedicate my time to my child instead?” It seemed like such a crazy notion at the time – and I’m angry at myself for that. I am so saddened by the fact that I had to question my innate calling to motherhood. The natural, human, womanly role that I was  born to play.

But this, my friends, is proof of the elimination of the mother-class.

No more 1950’s June Cleavers proud to wear the apron all day. Except me. I am definitely relishing in this shit. Dinner served, laundry done, husband happy, baby thrilled – I am FULFILLED. I do, also, consider myself a feminist – go figure.

My day, even with a mile-long “To-Do” list, revolves around my daughter’s nap schedule. It means, I‘m working from the car if that’s where she falls asleep.

My day, seems more beautiful and meaningful with each giggle I hear or look of amazement I see on my daughter’s face.

My day, doesn’t have enough hours. Or minutes. Or seconds. And no, not because of that now half-marathon-long to-do list. It’s because I am loving being “Mom” so damn much that I could cram so much more of it into one day if I had the chance.

I spent my afternoon today with a group of Mommy-friends who all hold the role of being “just mom”. Some of us in that crew do the work-from-home thing. Some don’t. And it’s all good… because we are ALL thrilled to hold the coveted title of “Mom”. And if there were nothing else to be, we’d be delighted all the same.

Our Mother-Class hasn’t been eliminated. No matter how hard other people try to bring it  down.